From the Blog
The City: Getting Things Done
May 9, 2016
So, I was playing tennis recently out in Queens, and afterward walked to my subway stop, an elevated concrete plateau above Queens Boulevard. A train had just departed, leaving the platform empty save for a body sprawled on the concrete, a young man lying in a fetal position. Like an idiot, I asked him, “you […]Read more, see more
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania
On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
Praise for Dead Wake
An intriguing, entirely engrossing investigation into a legendary disaster.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Factual and personal to a high degree, the narrative reads like a grade-A thriller.”—Booklist, starred review
With a narrative as smooth as the titular passenger liner, Larson delivers a riveting account of one of the most tragic events of WWI…A blunt reminder that war is, at its most basic, a matter of life and death.”—Publishers Weekly